This article was in a Milwaukee newspaper, made me think of our shark encounters in AC. Should we be more afraid?
Article Title:Pity the poor little grouper who swims with the sharks
Six months ago, a miniatus grouper - about 4 inches long, reddish-orange with blue dots - jumped out of its perfectly adequate but relatively dull tank at a local fish and aquarium store, fell 3 or 4 feet and landed with not much of a splash in the much more lavishly appointed 3,000 gallon tank below.
The downside to the fish's new quarters were obvious, if not to the fish, then certainly to the humans who work at Aqua Exhibits, and to the store's visitors, some of whom come just to take a look at the big tank's longtime inhabitants: three 50-pound nurse sharks and one full-grown moray eel.
The grouper has so far managed to survive. It keeps its Technicolor self tucked beneath a large chunk of dead coral and eats whatever scraps of smelt the sharks and eel fail to devour during their afternoon feeding.
But it's just a matter of time before the grouper becomes yet another example of what happens when you fail to look before you leap, aren't happy with what you've got, are blinded by ambition, imagine that the grass is greener on the other side of the fence, etc.
"The sharks will eat him," said Kevin Boettcher, who is the manager of Aqua Exhibits on N. King Drive and has worked there for the last six years.
According to the Florida Museum of Natural History's Web site, nurse sharks "may bite with a powerful vise-like grip capable of inflicting serious injury. In some instances, jaws release was accomplished only after using surgical instruments."
So don't expect anyone to reach in and save the grouper. It has made its bed and now must lie in it.
'A lot of blood'
Boettcher said the sharks haven't bitten anyone as long as he's been at Aqua Exhibits, but one time, a drunken man wandered in during one of the downtown festivals and tried to pet the moray.
"There was a lot of blood, but it wasn't too bad," Boettcher said. "A lot of blood. Must have hit an artery or something."
The eel isn't for sale, but the sharks are, though Boettcher isn't sure, if someone were to buy one, how he would get it out of the store. Some kind of tranquilizer would be required, but that's as far as Boettcher's gotten with the problem.
When the sharks arrived at Aqua Exhibits, they were 18 inches long and retailed for $100. Now, 13 years later, they're nearly 5 feet long and are retailing for $1,100.
As Boettcher and I were talking, two men - Crespin Cortez and Hector Acevevo - stopped at the shark tank to admire the fish.
Owning a big, toothy shark seemed like a great idea to Cortez, but to Acevevo, not so great. "Extraordinary," Cortez said. "Dangerous," Acevevo said. "They look like they could jump out of there and get you." "They're beautiful, man," Cortez said. "They're like pit bulls in water." "Exactly," Acevevo said. "But they don't growl and let you know they're coming."